Salukis working just as hard in offseason

By Aaron Graff

SIU swimming and diving will not get five weeks of winter break like most students.

The Salukis had their final meet of the semester from Nov. 21 to 23 in Louisville, Ky., where both the men and women finished fifth. Coach Rick Walker said the team is tired, but he was happy how it grinded the semester out.

“Too often athletes are only really really good when it’s convenient,” Walker said. “I think our greatest athletes are good every time. More importantly, when it’s not convenient.”


The Salukis are now practicing for next semester. Athletes go home for two weeks during winter break, but return for longer practices than usual.

The team went to Puerto Rico during winter break for training last season. This year the team will train at home in the Edward J. Shea Natatorium.

“We’re going to Car-Bon-De-Lay,” Walker said. “It’s cheaper. That way we can afford a trip next year.”

Walker said the athletes have to train on their own during the two weeks they are at home.

“They were swimmers before they got here,” Walker said. “They have pools and clubs and teams they can train with. I expect them to do that.”

Sophomore swimmer Sarah James said her mom, Anne James, is a swimming coach at Colorado College. She said the Prowlers have one more week of school than SIU, so she will probably train with them.

The younger James broke SIU’s record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 55.70. Kelly Dvorak, who had a time of 56.13 in the 2008-2009 season, previously held the record.


“I have been working at that record board for a while,” she said. “Last year, I wanted it really bad at conference. … Getting it at midseason this year, not even at conference, really excites me.”

James said SIU worked harder than last year, and she is thrilled to see where it finishes in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships. Last season, the Salukis finished third.

Missouri State has won the MVC seven consecutive years.

Junior swimmer Till Pallmann said he is going home to Germany. He said he is not sure if the men can win the Mid-American Conference Championship, but he has high personal expectations.

“I want to qualify for the NCAA championships,” Pallmann said. “I also want to see the team step up in the MAC Championships. I want at least a top-three finish.”

Pallmann won the 500- and 200-yard freestyle races at the conference tournament last season and led the men this year.

The Salukis host Arkansas Little Rock and Washington University in St. Louis on Jan. 17. They have only two meets remaining before the women’s conference tournament.

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269